Dispelling the myths and mystery of the construction industry: Joanna Jones

March 10, 2022

We’re committed to empowering and championing women in the construction industry – this International Women’s Day and beyond.  

Read about one of the amazing women who work at Tarmac: Jo Jones – animal lover, magical storyteller and facilities and compliance manager, based at our quarry. 

Jo Jones finds something magical about her job at Tarmac. It’s something more than just roads, asphalt and aggregate, and bricks and cement. 

And she is keen to spread the wondrous word of what is, essentially, the building blocks of our daily lives. 

Jo would love to spread the word that there is something spellbinding about what Tarmac does and will continue to do into the future. She is currently studying a PhD in ‘The Use of Storytelling and Magic in Delivering Education for Sustainable Development’. 

“I want to use magic and storytelling to dispel the myths about the construction industry – particularly to children, and especially about sustainability,” says Jo. “Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects are not mysterious and can be rewarding. 

“I am five years into a nine-year PhD, using magic to engage primary school children with sustainability. I was due to start delivering sessions in schools but then Covid struck. All being well, I will get my chance to perform my magical stories to children later this year.” 

In her day job as facilities and compliance manager, Jo is all about efficiency. And, if not by magic, then by scientific analysis and the application of systems, she and her team help us to measure, monitor and maintain improvements at the site. 

“We also provide hands on operational support to the project,” she says. “We report on the improvements being made against a number of KPIs which I maintain on a weekly and monthly basis. I also get out around site, talking to sections about how they are performing and looking at what actions we need to take to improve further.” 

Where many might find mundanity in maintaining, monitoring and managing Mountsorrel, Jo, who joined the business in 2016 as energy optimisation manager, says her role is much more. 

“The facilities section covers the management of the contracted security and cleaning provision across the site, as well as maintaining the servicing of air conditioning units, PAT testing, grounds maintenance, and community projects. Compliance wise my team also supports section managers with the Environmental Management System, quality and health and safety, as well as managing the monitoring and reporting of noise, dust and legionella, and much more. 

“We also look for opportunities to improve the biodiversity on site, installing wild flower areas, bee and bug hotels and the planting of trees and bushes. It’s all about sustainability.” 

Before joining Tarmac, she had spent 10 years working as a sustainability professional within varied roles across multiple sectors. 

“Changing to my role within Tarmac did come as a bit of a shock at the time… but being open-minded and taking this opportunity was one of the best decisions I have made.”   

Excellence and efficiency run in Jo’s veins. She holds a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification – a qualification demonstrating her advanced competency in project management and improvement. She leads projects to identify process improvements within the aggregates and asphalt division to save time, energy and cost. 

“We reviewed how we blast and haul the rock, through to how we purchase goods and services.  

“Sustainability is a very big part of what I do on a daily basis. My job is fast-paced and extremely varied, and I work with some fantastic people. Mountsorrel Quarry is always evolving, and there is just so much to do and see that I haven’t had a boring day yet! 

“I have loved every single role I have carried out within Tarmac. Juggling the conflicting priorities can be tough, as you can’t always achieve everything on your ‘to do’ list. It takes good time management, and at times ruthless prioritisation. I ask myself ‘What is it important for me to achieve in the next hour, day, week’ to always ensure I am putting my time to the best use possible.” 

She and her team, she believes, are making a positive difference, and she harbours no immediate desire to change roles. 

“I thoroughly enjoy my job,” she adds. “I find it mentally challenging, fun and I get a great sense of satisfaction from what I am delivering, plus I have a good work life balance and a short commute. 

“I try to keep an open mind, as you don’t want to miss the right opportunity if it comes along, but for now I can’t see myself being anywhere but here.” 

She doesn’t let being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated sector bother her. 

“It doesn’t really occur to me that that is the case, I am just part of the team like everyone else.” 

And her advice to those starting out? 

“Be open to opportunities that may not be exactly aligned to where you thought you wanted to be, as you never know where it will take you. I genuinely love working at Mountsorrel Quarry, but I had never thought to work here until the opportunity came up.”  

Married with a menagerie of animals – two very fluffy cats, two turtles, five fish and a clutch of tadpoles, Jo is also a hobby fanatic. 

“I like to learn a new craft most years,” she says. “Some have stuck, such as needle felting, but others didn’t quite make the cut, such as knitting. I make Christmas presents for friends and family and am also a bit of a plant-a-holic, but my success in this area is very 50:50, mostly due to my stingy watering practices.”